Season starter ... at last

Update (22 June): Tuesday night came through (with good accumulations down to below 1600 m, not 1800 m), so we’re looking forward to seeing a number from you tomorrow, Hydro guys.

It looks like the first real snow of 2016 will be on Friday, so the first official snow depth measurement for the season probably won’t be until Thursday 30 June. That’s by Snowy Hydro Limited at its Spencers Creek snow measuring course mid-way between Perisher Valley and Thredbo, NSW, where they’ve been out probing and weighing most winter Thursdays since 1954. But there’s still a chance of snow down to about 1800 m elevation late Tuesday night and Wednesday, so it’s possible that the Hydro will record something this week. The Spencers Creek measurement is taken at about 1830 m.

Either way, this is another very late season start. The latest-ever first snow depth for our snow season was 70.9 cm recorded on 12 July 1957. We came close to ‘beating’ that last year with just a few centimetres on the ground throughout early July, before 55.1 cm on the 16th*.

The historical season start data looks like this:

Spencers Creek season start

Spencers Creek season start

It’s still a bit doubtful whether there’s a significant trend towards later snow season starts in Australia. That’s unlike the trend to earlier season finishes, which is obvious.

Spencers Creek snow depths by decade

Spencers Creek snow depths by decade

(* There was measured snow on the ground briefly in May and again in June last year, so a mid-July ‘first snow’ record wouldn’t have counted. 1957 had no measured snow depth until 12 July, but it is possible that the Hydro were a little less diligent then about recording light early season falls.)

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